DALES WHYTE – Living life and giving direction

In this feature interview, you’ll learn more about Dales Whyte.

He’s a broadcast veteran as well as working outside of the industry.

Dales has worked all sorts of jobs within radio. From on-air to copy, even management roles to help others.

Q: Dales, Where is home for you? Born and bred or just really happy there?

A: Home for me at the moment Scotty is Batehaven on the magnificent Oyster Coast of Southern NSW. My current role is as a NSW Government Business Advisor, assisting small businesses throughout the state and especially in the southern region. My experience in Media with Management and ownership, as well as the numerous management roles I have undertaken, has been of great value to me in this role. I was born and bred in QLD with my career mostly spanning the length and breadth of Queensland into eventually the NT and WA, currently doing 2 hours a week on air for Big Hits Radio out of Townsville.

Dales – early days in radio

Q: Where did the radio arm begin?

A: My radio career really started back in the mid-70s when I did work experience at 4IP and I fell in love with Radio and you can thank Alan McGirvan for that! I saw his show being produced and it was just magic, I was wanting to be a pilot but then I turned around and decided nope, I want to go into Radio so it’s all his fault. I can remember taking cassettes of demo radio shows from a studio I built in my bedroom at home into both 4BC and 4IP after school on a Friday and they were kind enough to let me have a play in the studio on occasions and interact with elite announcers like Gavin Fullwood [better known as Gavin Wood of Countdown fame] and I just learned so much about radio from them. Then one day I was offered a chance to apply for a job in Roma, I took it, it was funtastic (remember that positioning statement!!) from there I went to 4SB Kingaroy and spent my formative radio years there before going to Toowoomba in the early 80’s.


Q: What stations – or atleast, locations have you served in broadcasting?

A: I think it might be easier when it comes to Queensland to tell you the places I haven’t served! I’ve done time in Roma, Kingaroy, Toowoomba (Twice) , Gladstone, Rockhampton, Townsville, Darwin, Brisbane (one of the most surreal feelings in my career was to say those magic words 4BC on the radio and actually be on the air with 4BC, it was the completion of a circle for me). Then there was my move to DMG, Emerald Atherton/Mareeba, Cairns, Albany [WA], Canberra and now doing two hours on an Internet radio station based out of Townsville. Important to note that not all of my positions were in announcing or management some were in sales, where my own air experience really helped. An announcer who can sell, I believe is worth their weight in gold, because they want the very best outcome for the client, they know the power of radio as an effective medium and know to set the expectations so the client knows what they will actually achieve. I believe radios longevity lies in creating long term clients who become ambassadors for the station not just quick fix sales.

Q: Ofcourse, radio has its “ups and downs”. What’s the stand out thing for you?

“Operation Bunny”

A: There have been so many exciting moments in radio for me from there the time we did breakfast back in the 4CC days onboard HMAS Canberra for the Navy’s birthday, doing a radio shift from atop the Moscow Circus (before OH&S had us in safety harness) to having radio concepts become realities such as annual events like Operation Rudolph/Operation Bunny/ Operation Reward Band On Beach all helping the community. To actually build and see your own concept come to fruition was probably some of my biggest standout moments because most of my concepts were designed around assisting the community and making the community a better place and I believe if we come down to that in the world of Radio it really is what Radio is all about, serving our community. I guess it’s a fairly contentious issue in today’s current radio and media world, but I believe that we’ve lost sight, in some cases, of serving our communities and we look too much at the bottom line. The Bottom line is important but in my experience most of my community serving concepts have also been revenue generating as well as being promotional for the radio station. Thus, contributing to the bottom line whereas today I think we’ve moved a little away from what we can do to make radio the best medium and to make the station we work for THE radio station in the market and just not another radio station.

Q: Have you come across famous faces during your time??

A: There’ve been hundreds, thousands really from movie stars and rock legends all the way down to homegrown country music stars who are a local heroes. I guess the scariest one for me was doing a breakfast show at 4RO when we had Dame Edna as our special guest. The whole 3 hours of the breakfast show Dame Edna and I were facing each other across the console, I was told my life would be at risk if I called Dame Edna, Barry! Barry turned up to the studio at 5:30 had a cup of coffee he wasn’t in any make up and for the whole show I am looking at the top of Barry Humphries head as he was looking down and getting into character, and I’m trying so hard not to call him Barry. I survived but it was probably one of the hardest Breakfast Shows I’ve ever done because he certainly doesn’t look like a female in real life without the makeup. There was also the likes of Leo McKern and David McCallum who were touring, Tina Turner, Tom Jones, Darryl Braithwaite & Skyhooks. It was a very different era where if someone was in the Region they had to go to the Local Radio Station for an interview this doesn’t tend to happen so much these days as if you go to one radio station you can cover the whole state or region through networking. Sadly, only yesterday I was told of the death of a former colleague who I got along with pretty well, that being Allen Aitken so not only have I worked with some of the famous faces, but I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some of the best Announcers in Australia, and for that I’m privileged.

Operation Rudolph parade

Q: Tell me about “Operation Rudolph” – What was it? – when did it begin? how many years did it run?

A: If I have one skill it is being able to create revenue generating promotions and marketing concepts that have the capacity to embrace and grow a Community and be valued by the Community. That’s also what I believe we should be doing currently in Radio, and I don’t think we’re doing it enough. Operation Rudolph started from a concept where the Emergency Services in the town of Emerald were all ‘blow-ins’ not locals and they were finding it hard to get accepted so we came up with the concept of Operation Rudolph which was basically a Christmas party hosted by the Emergency Services, the Radio station and sponsored ,the first one by Telstra, the convoy spent three hours driving around the town of Emerald with lights, sirens, Christmas carols and Santa Claus, lot more involved in that but you’ll see what I mean from some of the photos and there’s a couple of great videos on my LinkedIn page. Essentially it allowed the local people, children, adults the whole community to come out and interact with the Emergency Services and of course the crew from the radio station. In the first hour of Operation Rudolph in Emerald (where it’s been operating now for 22 years and is cemented into the community) I had a policeman come up to me and tell me he’d been wished Merry Christmas by a bloke he just picked up and charged with shoplifting only a couple of days beforehand he described him as a hard case he was a young teenager but he just given him a packet of potato chips and some lollies and they began a conversation, a breakthrough, that is what makes Rudolph so special.

It allows us to overcome some of the perceived differences in our community, we all love Christmas it brings everyone together on an equal basis. Operation Rudolph was run in various locations including Albany [WA], 9 operation Rudolph’s in the Atherton Tablelands on one night, Port Douglas, Cairns ( 10 years) and there were some attempts to introduce Operation Rudolph by American Law Enforcement Agencies, but the weather always played havoc. Operation Rudolph is probably the most successful of all the events that were created along the community assistance/ revenue generating/station promotion lines. There were also road safety events created for the Queensland Police Service, that being Operation Reward, Operation Safe Drive and various others to make the communities we lived in better places. In Cairns,  operation Rudolph consisted of 100 emergency vehicles in convoy, all underlines and sirens, at least one truck with sound equipment and band, and you could hear us up to 3 kilometres away before we arrived on scene. Honestly the photos just cannot do it justice it is an event that you have to be part of to understand the immensity of it.

Q: Over the years, your career in radio has taken you across Queensland, Western Australia and even the National Capital. Where are you now and what are you doing?

A: Well you know Scotty these days my main job is working for the NSW Government Business Connect program as a Business Advisor, I have dealt with nearly 2000 businesses in the three years I’ve been doing this role. Without a doubt it’s an extremely rewarding role making a positive impact on business in our community. Essentially, it’s helping businesses that are planning to start, or wishing to grow or businesses that are having problems and helping them overcome those problems. My remit is to teach the business owners how to fish not to fish for them, having had five businesses of my own and a not-for-profit organisation that I have started over the years it is satisfying to pass on my experience.

Q: I know from you history, you are genuine about offering to assist people in time of need. I’m guessing this new job is very rewarding?

A: Scotty I love helping people. That’s the main reason I went into Radio, I’ve served on several National Boards with the likes of Volunteering Australia, Bravehearts etc so my heart is really in helping the community. It’s ironic because the interview and sales skills that I picked up in my radio days are still pertinent and actually assist me in the job I do today, and I believe that’s why I am good at this particular role. To assist the thousands of clients that I’ve worked with in radio, I have to understand how their business works, what their expectations are and in many ways that’s exactly what I’m doing now in my role as a Business Advisor.

Q: We all do side jobs – what’s yours?

A: My side jobs have always been interesting! Working as the voice for TEN, being a fire officer with the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, a State Emergency Service member, running my own charity, a uniformed officer in Defence, MC in a casino, lots of side jobs when I was in radio and I loved every moment of them. And it’s funny because now my side job is doing it a 2-hour Radio show each week, so its turned the full circle! I still do a few voiceovers from the studio I have in my office and really enjoy the showbiz side Radio. You can take the bloke out of Radio, but you can’t take the Radio out of the bloke!

Q: If the opportunity came up, would you return to broadcasting?

A: Would I return to broadcasting? What an interesting question! I would never say never, and I think it would probably be time to establish my thoughts on Radio. For Radio to survive and prosper some changes have to be made in the way we deliver Radio to our listeners. I believe Radio still has a very strong and pertinent part to play in any community, that being said I don’t believe that every radio station is the THE radio station in their community. By that I mean that some of them aren’t using localism anywhere near enough. I believe that if we’re going to be responsive to our communities and pertinent to our communities and ensuring that our communities support the Radio Station, which after all survives by making money from that community through advertising, then the station has to be very much a part of that community and it pains me to see Stations that aren’t. I note that clients who tell me that their radio advertising doesn’t work are normally in markets where the Stations do not get involved in the local events small or large unless there is a dollar component. The markets where clients tell me their advertising works, the radio stations are definitely THE radio stations in that region. they own the market and they own the listeners. There are a lot of aspects that come into play but being a part of the community and being pertinent and important to that community is what I believe will get broadcasting to grow prosper and not fade away. To clarify I’m not saying that old radio the 60s and 70s is the way to go, I believe for radio to survive it is a combination of localism, utilising social media far more and far more effectively than most currently do and going that little bit extra in the marketplace. Essentially a combination of old and current radio skills to create a new standard of radio that people will listen to and support, it’s all about people.

Dales – thanks for your time and all the best.

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